Graeme, also an owner of the acclaimed Climbing Works bouldering wall in Sheffield (website), has been climbing for 27 years and still manages to get abroad on climbing trips for six weeks each year. As well as dealing with day to day climbing competition and climbing wall issues Graeme has also been involved with the organisation of several major climbing competitions in the UK the past seven years.
Highlights include running the competition element of The Festival of Climbing at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham. A three day event that included a Bouldering World Cup, a European Youth Cup (leading event) and a Masters Event (again a leading comp), as well as 'helping' with other elements of the Festival.
He ran the World Youth Championships at Ratho in August 2004 which was challenging. It was the biggest ever turnout for an official international event. Ratho was plagued with financial difficulties at the time.
Graeme told us:
"Six weeks beforehand we did not know whether the Bank and/or the recievers were going to pull the plug (Ratho was in recievership at the time). The comp itself was doable but the stress six weeks out was unbelieveable. We were dealing with people who were £10 million out of pocket and would have quite happily shit on us. We think the only reason it went ahead is because the Bank must have realised they would be liable for the plane tickets of the 100+ Yanks, 30+ Aussies, 30+ Canadians, 20+ Kiwis etc that had already booked their tickets."
He has run six competition events at the Outdoor Show at the NEC, Birmingham, managed a network of over 100 committed competition volunteers and established the BMC as a force in the community of UK climbing walls....this is element of his work will now have a dedicated BMC officer.
Internationally he is the longest serving IFSC (International Federation of Sport Climbing) judge, one of eight who is qualified to be a jury president and he is the Director of the IFSC Events Commission which looks at applications for climbing events and tries to plan a coherent calendar. He will continue this work after he leaves the BMC.
So what's next? Well, he is moving back to Sheffield to take a more active role in the Climbing Works and has many other climbing projects planned. But most of all, after July 1 when he leaves the Burton Road offices of the BMC for the last time he is looking forward to getting out climbing more and getting back to full fitness.
I'm sure we all wish Graeme the very best and thank him for all his hard work at the BMC the last seven years and look forward to welcoming his replacements.
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